Jockey Jerry Bailey made a rare foray to the West Coast from his New York base Wednesday, and left with his first two victories at Del Mar. Both of Bailey's wins were for trainer Bob Baffert on the closing-day Del Mar card.
In the featured Del Mar Futurity (gr., II), Gary Garber's Flame Thrower posted a game victory over Godolphin Racing's Street Cry, giving the son of Saint Ballado his third victory from as many starts. Arabian Light was third, 3 1/2 lengths behind the runner-up and five lengths in front of Learing at Kathy in the field of nine juveniles. Flame ran the seven furlongs in a fast 1:22 flat, only two-fifths of a second slower than the stakes mark set by Forest Camp a year ago.
The Florida-bred colt, a $270,000 purchase last April at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's 2-year-old sale, has now nearly equaled his purchase price with career earnings of $268,200. In his two previous efforts, Flame Thrower was ridden by Corey Nakatani to victories in a maiden special test on Del Mar's opening day and in the Best Pal Stakes.
"I couldn't tell if he (David Flores on Street Cry) actually got past me," Bailey said. "He surely got up next to me and we were going head and head. But my colt came again. He was game. When they do that, they're showing you a lot of character and determination. The good ones find a way to win and this guy did today."
The victory was a record 13th stakes success this season and an unprecedented fifth straight triumph in the Del Mar Futurity for Baffert. Starting in 1996, his Futurity winners have been Silver Charm, who went on to win the '97 Kentucky Derby; Souvenir Copy, Worldly Manner and Forest Camp.
"I thought he was beat," Baffert said. "They usually go by them like that. The last 50 yards I was saying 'I hope he sees him.' This horse is so competitive. Jerry said that when he got in between horses, he didn't like it. My 8 horse (Arabian Light) came over on him, and that's when I saw Street Cry sitting back there nice and relaxed, and David had him in a good spot. When they turned for home and I saw :44 1/5 [for the half-mile] I thought 'I'm in trouble. This horse is going to get beat. They went too fast.' I was worried about that, but when he saw that horse next to him, he dug in.
In the day's supporting feature, Baffert and Bailey teamed up to win the CERF Handicap with 1-5 favored Chilukki, the 1999 champion 2-year-old filly who won by five lengths in 1:09 1/5 for the six furlongs. Sea of Ice was second.